I was going to avoid feminism for a while, but this is officially topical so I felt inclined to jump on the bandwagon while there’s still a bandwagon to jump on.
So apparently the Women Against Feminism Facebook page and the #womenagainstfeminsim Twitter hash tag has found its way into mainstream consciousness. Despite the fact that I write a blog on the internet, I’m actually woefully unaware of trending topics like this for the most part. The only reason I’m aware of this one is that more than one of my Facebook friends shared articles about it, so I figured something must be going on. Lo and behold, the movement is actually popular for one fleeting internet moment. Well, more infamous than popular it would seem.
I’m not a part of either group. I don’t do much on Facebook besides play Tetris and talk to my friends, and I don’t even have a Twitter, so I haven’t really participated in any of it. That being said, I am quite obviously a woman against feminism, so I feel inclined to talk about it. I’ve picked out a few of the articles on the matter and will provide links to them as I counter what they have to say.
The first up is a short pop-corn piece from MTV praising Beyoncé for her reaction to all the women against feminism. I’m not a fan of her–she has an ego bigger than Kanye West and her empowerment anthem that’s deep because it samples a Ted Talk about women’s rights is really just all about how awesome she is . . . and other women too I guess . . . look I sampled a speech, I’m smart! Her voice is nice, though. She’s officially a feminist icon though, so it makes sense that she’d have something to say. She posted an Instagram photo of her cosplaying as Rosie the Riveter in what everyone assumes is her response to Women Against Feminism.
First, I don’t understand why Rosie the Riveter is a feminist icon to begin with. She was a model in a propaganda poster to get women to go out and make bullets and plane parts to support our boys overseas. Empowerment? Is it empowering because she’s flexing? And the actual Rosie the Riveter quit her “empowering” job in a factory soon after making this poster because working a steam press is fucking dangerous. So, yeah. I do not get why that image is one that feminists chose to represent their cause.
According to the writer of the article, I’m supposed to be intimidated into compliance because Queen B disapproves. Sorry, MTV, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Seeing as how we’re very clearly supposed to be against Women Against Feminism, what with the talk of the Apocalypse and phrases like how she did it to “save the world from itself,” it makes sense that this is less of an article and more of an blurb that everyone’s totes suppose to agree with already.
They don’t even try to take it seriously. They went in with the notion that Women Against Feminism didn’t have any merit, looked it over with that thought firmly in mind, and came out of it with their preconceived notions being perfectly validated. They knew what they thought of it, and they weren’t going to change their minds.
I’ll be the first to say that Facebook groups can be extremely insipid no matter the subject, Tumblr is usually the exact opposite of intelligent, and Twitter only lets you use 140 characters. Whatever you have to say can’t be all that complex if you’re saying it there. Many people on the internet are dumb–lots of them don’t help their cause with their not-very-thought-out comments. Just look at conservatives: You can have a perfectly logical, intelligent reason for being one, but you wouldn’t know that just from looking at Right Wing Facebook groups that make the entire idea seem terrible. In short, maybe these groups and that hashtag actually are full of dumb people that make everyone else look bad. I wouldn’t be surprised. I probably wouldn’t like being a part of any of those groups for the same reason I left an anti-theist group after five minutes even though I agree with them with a lot of things–people on the internet are fucking dumb. It’s difficult to have nuanced conversations.
In my own post about why I am a woman against feminism, I rambled on for thousands of words just to be as clear and intelligent as possible. It’s a difficult thing to explain without being shot down immediately. And that’s what’s happened here. The group has been shot down immediately. And I have a feeling that even if every single one of its participants had thought out arguments and intelligent points to make, it would still be shot down immediately.
Because it’s not like they have any legitimate criticisms or intelligent counterpoints, amiright ladies? Feminism is the Holy Grail, amen!
Let’s just look at the first paragraph of the Bustle article:
Call me overly optimistic, but I thought that the outdated image of a feminist as a bra-burning, rage-filled, hairy-legged, smelly, rude, oppressive misandrist had gone out the window years ago. Now that there are plenty of relatable feminist icons to look up to, from Notorious RBG (that’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for those of you not in the know) to Beyonce, you’d think that feminism wouldn’t be a dirty word anymore. Not so, according to the scarily popular new Facebook group “Women Against Feminism,” which seems to have some severe issues with understanding what feminism actually is.
I’m against modern, third/fourth wave feminism, and I am a woman. I also am under no impression that feminists are “bra-burning, rage-filled, hairy-legged, smelly, rude, oppressive misandrists.” Because I’m a reasonable human being, and I know a straw man when I see one. Apparently, the writer of this article doesn’t. Women who are against feminism are ignorant and misinformed, doncha know? This article is so condescending, it’s clear that the writer thinks all these women against feminism must just be overgrown toddlers. Tell me what feminism, actually means, though. Please do.
Let’s begin by what “feminism” actually means. According to Merriam-Webster, it is ”the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” . . . Nowhere in the foundations of feminism is there an explicit message of hatred against men, or an indication that women are superior to men. That’s called misandry, and it is just as regrettable as racism, sexism, ageism, or any other discriminatory behavior. . . .That doesn’t mean those groups are defined by the outliers.
Once again, I feel the need to point out that I already knew what the dictionary definition of “feminism” is. I know that perfectly well, and I know that you shouldn’t define groups by the behavior of outliers–almost like how you shouldn’t let your entire view of a countermovement be founded upon oversimplified Twitter hashtags.
It then goes on to show some of the actual things people had to say. The first one is a woman stating that she’s not a feminist because she thinks the feminist movement has caused more destruction than good. Really oversimplified, and she probably shouldn’t have said that feminism has never done anyone any good, because that leaves it open to the fairly obvious counterpoint that feminism has indeed done good things in the past. The writer then goes on to make that obvious point in the most condescending way possible.
Hmm…what about the time when the feminist movement resulted in the right to vote? Perhaps the time when women’s employment rose from about 37.7 percent of the total female population in 1960 to 58.6 percent in 2009? Or the time when historically-male colleges began to relax their rules and admit women? (Neither my mother nor I would have received an education at our alma mater, the University of Virginia, otherwise — it was vociferously all-male until 1970, when a civil rights lawsuit forced it to become co-educational.)
Yes, those are all very good things. They are also all examples of early feminism of the late 20th century, not feminism as a current movement in 2014. I’ve found that many non-feminists, such as myself, hold the early feminist movement in very high regard and only lament that it has, in our opinion, devolved into feminism how it is now. If you want to make a point about how feminism is currently really awesome, you should use current examples.
Also, I can appreciate what something has done in the past without conceding every point to it in the present. I wouldn’t have had health insurance as a child if it weren’t for Wal-Mart providing it to their employees and their families. Does that mean that I can’t say anything negative about how Wal-Mart currently treats its workers because it did something good for me once?
The next woman says: “I don’t need feminism because: I don’t need to grow out my body hair to prove that I’m equal to men.” The writer’s response is to say that feminism isn’t about not shaving, it’s about doing whatever you damn well please with your body. That’s all well and good. I actually think that’s a piss poor reason to not be a feminist, if that’s your only one. But the writer ignores the more general idea that maybe, just maybe feminists often define “equality” in very arbitrary ways (like how just having more women in politics apparently leads to women being represented better, even though that’s not necessarily the case, for example).
The next woman says: “I am against modern Western feminism because the pay gap is a myth, the war on rape culture is moot because good men don’t rape and bad men don’t care, and disarming women doesn’t help. Modern feminist care more about “slut shame” than the beating, rape, and murder, of countless Muslim women every day.” Alright, here we go! Here’s a more extensive one, one that specifies the backlash against modern Western feminism specifically, one that raises more specific points about hypocrisy and inefficiency within the movement. What does the writer of the article say to counter it?
News flash: the pay gap is not a myth. It exists in almost every congressional district in the U.S. The overall ratio between men and women’s pay is 77 percent (meaning that, on average, women make 77 percent of what men make). You sure you want to call that a myth?
First, that link takes us to the AAUW, a feminism-centric website. I’d take it more seriously if you provided a link to a non-affiliated statistics website. I’m not saying that a non-affiliated website wouldn’t have the same information, maybe it would, but this is like a Christian linking to an apologist website to make a point to an atheist. Also, just looking at those charts, it looks like it only took into account gender, job, and year-end pay. Many people say that the pay gap is a myth because there are studies that control for other factors (overtime, days worked, hours worked per day, vacation time taken, etc) that indicate that the gap, once those elements are taken into account, isn’t nearly as significant as seventy-five cents to the dollar.
Second, you’re not going to address any of her other points? You’re not going to defend rape culture rhetoric or talk about how American women have their own problems with sexism even if it’s not as bad as other places? You’re not even going to pay attention to them? That pay gap comment is all you’re going to focus on? Okay.
Next up! “I don’t need feminism because I can own up to the mistakes I’ve made in my life and do not have to blame them on the completely fictional ‘patriarchy.'” So she’s bringing up the fact that feminism oftentimes doesn’t give women much accountability for their own actions because they’re being overwhelmingly acted on by outside forces. The response:
Oh, you mean the historically-ingrained patriarchy we inherited as a Western culture? If we define a patriarchy as a male-led society, then…doesn’t the face that only 18.5 percent of Congress is comprised of women make us sort of, you know, patriarchal?
The patriarchy was a fairly minimal point in the woman’s original post. She mentioned that she didn’t think it existed, but her point was mainly about owning her actions and not blaming the bad things in her life on something else. The writer chose to pick this as a time to insist that the patriarchy does too exist even though that was a secondary element of the argument they’re trying to rebut. They just insist that the patriarchy is a thing–an omnipresent, terrible thing that effects everything–ignore the larger point the woman was trying to make about personal autonomy, and then says that not having many female Congress members proves their point.
This totally disregards the fact that no one likes the American Congress right now. What’s their approval rating again? So the idea that men are being represented more than women makes little sense one you realize that almost no one feels represented by our democratically elected by both men and women citizens Congress members right now. Would the approval rating of Congress’ incompetence go up if it was a 50/50 split gender-wise, perhaps?
Next: “I don’t need feminism because if I’m wearing a top like this, I want you to look!” And she’s wearing a very revealing top, as you can imagine. Again, the response:
Hey, I’m totally down with feeling sexy as heck. But what about women who don’t want to be looked at, even if they are wearing a top like that?
…OK, I need to stop before steam starts shooting out of my ears.
There are, indeed, women who like to wear revealing tops for reasons other than wanting guys to look at them and don’t like to be ogled. They exist. But what does that have to do with the point this woman is trying to make? It would be like me saying, “We should not have pizza anymore because even though I’m all for stuffing your face with faux-Italian food, some people don’t like pizza.” It’s totally irrelevant.
What the woman was trying to say was that feminists can’t make blanket statements about sexual expression or what is and is not acceptable. She’s trying to say that some–not all, but some–women don’t mind being looked at by guys. Feminism would have you believe that it’s universally objectifying for a man to enjoy a nice set of breasts on a woman showing her chest because there should be nothing inherently sexual about a girl exposing her breasts.This woman is just trying to say that you can’t make that blanket statement about all women feeling bad about it because some woman actually enjoy that kind of attention, want to be seen as sexual, and don’t find it objectifying. She’s pointing out that it’s not a black-and-white situation of men always being sexually objectifying pigs essentially, that there are many women who like when guys look at them in a sexual manner and you can’t claim that it’s objectively and universally demeaning for that reason. Not going to address that, though, are you? No?
And that’s the end.
How about the Vice article. It’s shorter, so we’ll get through it quickly.
The women on the blog have a variety of reasons. Some of them don’t believe in hating men (a basic pillar of feminist theory). Some of them think feminists are sluts (their words). A disquieting number of them simply need help opening jars. One woman does not need feminism for unstated reasons (but I think we can safely assume it’s related to jars). The jar problem is rampant enough that I’m a little worried these women have severe, undiagnosed muscular problems. Guys, please see a doctor. It can be a male doctor!
Is anyone going to address any of the actual points raised, or are we just going to continue to make an ignorant, misinformed straw man out of everything they have to say? Let’s dive in, I guess.
A common theme in these user-submitted signs is that the women don’t need feminism because they believe in living traditionally. Some specifically state that they are stay-at-home moms . . . On its surface, it’s pretty easy to understand where they’re coming from—you don’t hear a lot about feminists fighting for a woman’s right to cook for her family. But that’s because the option to cook for your family was always on the table (so to speak). Our feminist predecessors had that option, and they wanted more options—like to have job opportunities and to vote. You don’t give up one right when you gain another. The option to be a stay-at-home mom has always been there (if you can afford to live on one income and so forth).
Just looking at it now (I’m not sure what I’ll have to say about it by the end of the article), the writer of this piece tackles the subject with much more nuance than the previous one and I greatly appreciate that. At least this person goes through the effort to explain her reasoning more in-depth. That being said, the writer still makes it seem as though the stigma against the working woman exists to the same levels that it did during the suffragette period, which clearly isn’t the case. The idea is still floating around in the ether, but you can’t really claim that it’s “how it is” anymore, not with all the working women we’ve gotten since the 1980s and the relatively little significant push back working women have now. It’s an outdated stigma for outdated people, and that’s typically how the mainstream world see it at this point. The world has progressed.
Personally, I’m not traditional. I want to focus on my career more than making a family, I feel no need to find a man before it’s “too late,” I don’t really want kids, and if I have kids I definitely don’t want to be a housewife. So being a non-feminist isn’t wholly dependent upon people clinging to the Olden Days because they liked the values of that time better. And if women’s choices are truly valued, people wouldn’t be freaking out so much about not as many women wanting to do STEM in college and insisting it’s because girls are being pressured out of it as opposed to girls maybe just not being as interested in it as other things. So essentially, this is backlash against feminists kinda-sorta passive aggressively saying that women should be doing certain things in order to show more progress, not just that they can if they want.
And, again, I at least give this writer credit for talking about current things that feminists are doing to help out. But she drops back down to condescension again by pointing out that men have lots of rights already.
Women Against Feminism would point out that feminists don’t work toward the same rights for men, so what gives? Feminists do actually work toward things like paid paternity leave, for one thing. But similar to the point made by my incredibly insightful bean metaphor, men already, uh, have a lot of rights. That’s why you don’t hear about feminists pursuing them. Maybe if feminists do eventually start fighting harder for the rights of men, there could be a highly paid male executive, or hell, even a male president!
Again, I don’t see how that’s relevant. Women may have more mainstream issues specifically pertaining to them, but that doesn’t mean that men have no issues. It’d be like me saying, “Racism against Asians isn’t an issue because Mexican immigrants have more problems than them.” And I’m happy about the paternity leave thing, but the fight for paternity leave goes hand-in-hand with the fight for maternity leave and helping women out by having their baby daddy at home longer to help with the new baby, so that’s not strictly a men’s issue. Most other issues that feminism deals with are strictly women’s issues, or they’re at least framed as strictly women’s issues. I don’t mind only fighting for women’s issues–you pick your battles, if you want to fight for women’s rights, awesome–but totally dismissing men’s issues and/or only dealing with them when they dovetail with a women’s issue doesn’t indicate that feminism is a movement out to help both genders.
Moving on . . .
The site purports to be against “modern feminism,” which is not a term people actually use, but I think they mean third-wave feminism. This movement takes a lot of that early feminist work for granted, claiming that “there is no patriarchy because a real patriarchy would not allow women to vote, divorce, go to college, have a career, live single, get abortions, etc.” Right. We have all that because feminists worked for it.
It’s a term people in the mainstream, who haven’t taken a gender studies class, use–“modern” meaning circa 2000 to current times. Needless semantics about the women in the group not using the right, technical terms and words doesn’t help prove your point. Once again, you assume that these women don’t appreciate anything feminism has ever done ever.
I fully acknowledge that many of the freedoms I have now I have because feminist women fought for them in the past. I’m well aware of that and greatly appreciate it. But you are essentially claiming that “it was this way in the past, so it must be this way now.” I’ll grant you that America once had a legitimate patriarchy that needed to be smashed, but it’s disrespectful to the women who did that to say fighting for the rights to vote and get a divorce are commensurate in scope and importance to what feminism is doing now. Appreciating what something was like when it first started up doesn’t mean you have to appreciate the follow-up act too, and it doesn’t mean you don’t acknowledge what the follow-up is trying to do.
Here’s a reference/metaphor for nerds. Liking Batman Begins and The Dark Knight doesn’t mean you have to like The Dark Knight Rises just because it was built on top of the foundation set by the first two movies. The third movie being a continuation of the story set by the other two doesn’t automatically make it good. I can appreciate what it was trying to do–the themes of closure and the cyclical nature of morality–and appreciate that Nolan had the forethought to build the groundwork for those themes through the previous films so that analyzing that particular theme of closure would very much be considered “the next natural step” of the story’s progression. But whether it accomplished that goal well is another topic, and all of the flack that the last movie got proves that being the logical story to be told after the build up of the first two films doesn’t make it good. Not liking The Dark Knight Rises and pointing out it’s obvious flaws doesn’t mean you don’t like the first two movies; it doesn’t mean you don’t respect Chris Nolan. Feminism can be seen the same way. “Modern” feminism may be the natural continuation of something started a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean we have to like how it turned out just because it was bound to happen that way.
At its core, Women Against Feminism takes feminism as a given by claiming not to need it. Most of their arguments boil down to “every battle has already been won,” which is an easy thing to say when all those battles were fought before you ever had a chance to know what was being fought for.
So, all their lip makes them ungrateful for not respecting their ancestors? That’s a bad argument, and you know it.
I neither hate nor am especially discouraged by their blog. Like the men’s rights movement, it seems like a lot of these problems these women have with feminism would be solved with a five-minute conversation. I would, however, suggest changing their blog name to Women Who Would Really Benefit From Learning What Feminism Is. Some of them have also come out against dictionaries, but that’s not an insurmountable obstacle either.
Once again, there’s that idea that “people would totes agree with me if they knew any better.” I may not be a feminist, but I at least don’t harbor the self-important delusion that I would definitely be able to make someone renounce feminism if only I could help them understand. You’re supposed to talk about your points and make your arguments for their own sake and hope that even if people don’t agree fully with you that they at least take someone away from the discourse, not because you want to convert people into agreeing with you.
Overall, this article was at least better than the last one, but still lacking.
If I made a post about why I am a feminist, people would go nuts if non-feminists went at it in this way. I could easily take all of the less-than-tactful laymen on the many “Why I Need Feminism” pages (you know, the things that say stuff like “I need feminism because my mom doesn’t like me wearing short skirts.”) and condescend toward them. It’s an obviously biased take on it, determined not to take anything the opposing side has to say seriously. If I treated feminism with this same level of dismissive condescension, people would call me an idiot and a bitch.
But it’s okay here. Because having reasons for why you don’t agree with something is hard. It’s best to just write off the people who disagree with you as ignorant and assume that if they just understood it better they’d be on your side. There’s no reason to see if any of the Women Against Feminism criticisms are legitimate because that would entail some level of objective introspection, and self-analysis, and acknowledgement of faults and shortcomings that feminism doesn’t allow.